On September 25, Pope Francis will speak to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City as the members determine the new Sustainable Development Goals. These goals will guide global leaders in finding a way forward for international development. The Sustainable Development Goals are being finalized this September ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change happening in Paris this December. Both UN gatherings are happening in the wake of global temperature rise, sea level rise, increased droughts and flooding, all due to climate change.
Part of our job as legislative assistants, in addition to staying on top of policy and doing direct lobby visits, is to help Reform Jews – from high school students with us for the L’Taken Social Justice Seminars to rabbis and congregational lay leaders attending Consultation on Conscience – speak to the offices of their elected officials.
The legislative assistant offices at the RAC have a strange feel to them today—all of the zany pictures and decorations adorning our desks have been removed, the usual desktop clutter has vanished and there is a strong scent of cleaning solution flowing through the air. After 50 weeks at the RAC, it’s our last day, and an opportunity for us to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve witnessed during our time here. Read more…
By Jonah Baskin
In this week’s parsha, parshat Eikev, Moses continues his final speech to the Israelites before they enter the land, much of which is devoted to admonishments to remember the mitzvot and the various punishments for failure to comply. Moses cautions the Israelites not to forget that God ultimately ensures their prosperity, “lest when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses, and live within them, and when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that is yours is multiplied… you will say in your heart: ‘My own power and the might of my own hand have produced this wealth for me.’” (Deuteronomy, 8:12-17) This caution against arrogance is interesting because it represents a unique strain of the vice that is easy to forget about. Read more…
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final rule for the Clean Power Plan, which requires states to significantly reduce carbon emissions through regulating coal power plants along with other mitigation strategies. The plan is expected to cut carbon emissions in the United States by up to 30%, making it a significant move to mitigate climate change in parallel with other greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies like regulating heavy duty vehicles and limiting methane. The rule is likely to shift conversations in some states from coal and other non-renewable fossil fuel resources to clean, renewable energy like wind and solar power. In announcing this historic rule, President Obama said: “Climate change is no longer just about the future that we’re predicting for our children or our grandchildren; it’s about the reality that we’re living with every day, right now.”
This past weekend, I attended the Religions for Peace USA Earth-Faith-Peace Teach In with a group of my fellow young faith leaders engaged in climate justice work. The group included participants from a wide array of religious traditions, from Franciscans to Zoroastrians, who flew in to the Teach-In from as far as Bombay and Brazil, as nearby as Boston and Washington, D.C. Together, our group explored sites of environmental degradation and pollution, learned about cap and trade and carbon tax models for mitigating climate change and shared environmental education and advocacy best practices from our communities.
By Jennifer Queen
Though Pope Francis may not know it, he and the ancient rabbis have a lot in common. As I participated in the Interfaith Update on the Papal Encyclical webinar yesterday, Rabbi Tarfon’s words, “it’s not your obligation to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it,” from Pirkei Avot (2:15-16), continually came to mind. The conversation between Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner and Rachel Laser from the Religious Action Center, founder of the Catholic Climate Covenant Dan Misleh, and Mark Rohlena from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, unfolded around Laudato Si: Sulla cura della casa commune (or Praised Be You: On the care of the common home), Pope Francis’ encyclical, released in June.
In California, residents are feeling the intensity of their continued drought and subsequent state-sanctioned fines for over-using water. One of the avenues Californians are using to enforce strict water use rules is “drought shaming.” Drought shaming is the practice of publicly tweeting, blogging and sharing images of neighbors and friends “carelessly” using water.